Novak Djokovic and Ben Shelton - US Open 2023

Novak Djokovic claims Ben Shelton ‘did not behave properly’ at US Open

Novak Djokovic has revealed why he copied Ben Shelton’s phone celebration at the US Open, labelling the young American’s behaviour as ‘unsportsmanlike’.

Djokovic played Shelton in the semi-final in New York, beating the then 20-year-old in straight sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

After the match Djokovic used Shelton’s ‘putting the phone down celebration’, that he had been using throughout the tournament, resulting in a seemingly frosty handshake.

However, at the time Djokovic insisted there was nothing to it, smiling when he told press, “I just love Ben’s celebration. I thought it was very original, and I copied him. I stole his celebration.”

Shelton responded to the celebration by suggesting that he was flattered, “I think if you win the match, you deserve to do whatever you want.

“You know, as a kid growing up, I always learned that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so that’s all I have to say about that.”

However, when recently asked by L’Equipe about the celebration, it appears that there was more to it from Djokovic’s side, “This is my reaction to a provocation that came from the other side, it was a reaction against him. He did not behave properly, with respect, on court, and before the match.”

The Serb continued, “I’m never going to make fun of someone if they don’t do something first. Every time I lose I always give my opponent a hug, I congratulate him, I respect him and his team. If anyone one places himself in the ‘unsportsmanlike zone’, I react.”

Both players are currently at the Australian Open, and would play each other if they reached the fourth round of the tournament.

Djokovic is currently embroiled in a battle on Rod Laver Arena with 18-year-old qualifier Dino Prizmic, with Shelton set to play Roberto Bautista Agut tomorrow.

Inside the baseline…

It was quite clear that there was a bit of needle in the match between Novak Djokovic and Ben Shelton at the US Open, with that celebration optimising it. However, it is kind of surprising that the topic has come back to light four months after the situation occurred. Lots of eyes will be on the Australian Open fourth round match, if both Djokovic and Shelton were to make it happen this year.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.